SEC Football Q&A: Is There Great Football Played Outside the Conference?
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@BarrettSallee why do most SEC fans not believe there is great football played outside the southeast? Infuriating.— Cole Wagoner (@colewagoner) October 24, 2013
I'm not sure I've every met anybody who believes that the SEC is the only conference in college football in which good football is played. In fact, anyone who truly believes that needs to have their head examined, because what Oregon is doing in the Pac-12 and what Florida State has done so far this season is incredibly impressive.
With that said though, you can't blame fans of SEC schools or fans of the conference in general for pounding their chests about the power of the conference, because it does have seven straight titles won by four different programs, and has produced eight title game participants since the 2006 season.
When you consistently beat the teams that are supposed to be elite, it's hard not to pound your chests about it.
Conference pride gets misconstrued as conference arrogance outside of the south, due in part to jealousy and frustration from teams and fans outside the SEC. Fans of other teams want that crystal football on their trophy shelf and recognize that having the benefit of the doubt created by conference superiority on their side is incredibly beneficial in the beauty pageant known as college football.
The SEC tends to cannibalize itself, and Alabama has been very fortunate over the last two seasons to even find itself in position to play for the national title. Teams from around the country haven't been able to take advantage, and that's on them.
@BarrettSallee How do you think Auburn finishes their last 4 game SEC stretch?— Ross Collings (@rosscollings) October 24, 2013
After the game versus Florida Atlantic this weekend, Auburn closes out at Arkansas, at Tennessee, versus Georgia and versus Alabama. That looks like 3-1 to me, with the only loss coming to Alabama.
Think about that for a second—if Auburn runs the table leading up to the Iron Bowl, that game on Nov. 30 on the Plains will be the first time since the division split that it will serve as the de facto SEC West championship game.
That would make quite an electric scene.
Arkansas is a disaster at this point, and Georgia's injury list is more like a novel than a short story. That's not to say that either of those teams can't beat Auburn, but I just don't see that happening based on where they are right now.
Tennessee is a bit different. The Vols are figuring things out, found a deep threat in Marquez North that can exploit Auburn's porous pass defense and that game is in Knoxville. But teams have been able to exploit Tennessee's defense with bubble screens often this year, and that's a staple of head coach Gus Malzahn's offense.
A 10-2 record for Auburn one year after going 3-9 would be a remarkable turnaround, and would give the Tigers—who only have one senior on their two-deep on offense—tons of momentum heading into 2014.
He isn't, and he shouldn't be. Although, as I stated in my piece on Florida's offense, it's a fair question to ask.
Florida doesn't need a coaching change, it needs a philosophy change.
That's not to say that Florida needs to turn into Oregon and run the hurry up out of the spread. But it needs those elements in the scheme, because they provide the diversity Florida needs to dig out of holes if and when the defense lets it down.
It's clear after watching this offense over the last few years that something needs to be done, but that doesn't mean a coaching change is in order. Just a little diversity would do.
If Florida does come open, I'd expect Louisville's Charlie Strong to be on that list, as well as Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and—if Florida wants to pull a 180 from a philosophical standpoint—Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
But that's a conversation that, at the earliest, should take place 365 days from now.
Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at email@example.com.
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